Every time you use a ride hailing app, order food with your phone, or even just send an email — there’s a good chance you’ve used software designed or maintained by someone in the country. In fact, as you read these words, you are depending on the work of coders from Kyiv.
That’s because over the past 10 years Ukraine has become one of the leading sources of talent and outsourcing in IT and software development.On the eve of Russia’s invasion, there were close to 300,000 IT specialists in the country, according to a local IT association.
And the Dutch outsourcing giant DAXX says a fifth of Fortune 500 countries have development teams there. Last year, Ukraine exported nearly $7 billion in IT services, accounting for one-tenth of all goods and services it sold to the rest of the world.The country’s proximity to the rest of Europe, competitive wages, and a strong Soviet-era tradition of engineering and sciences education have all drawn international interest, says Andrea Breanna, CEO of RebelMouse, which provides web design and client management services to a number of companies — including GZERO Media.
Oleksandr Kosovan, is the CEO of Macpaw, which makes a variety of apps for Mac users. Amid rumors of war in January, he took his family to safety abroad.But then, he says, he returned to Kyiv just before the Russian assault began. While nearly half of his 400 employees have since left the country, he stayed.
“I decided that it would be really difficult to explain to my kids, to look into their eyes, and explain why we lost our home, why we lost our country,” he says. “I think it was one of the bravest decisions in my life.”
He says his company has prepared emergency kits for employees, set up plans to automate their operations in case the power goes out, and secured databases of client information that could be captured by Russian troops.
For now, so long as the electricity is on, tech pros like Kosovan and Kravchenko continue to work. And they’re optimistic that when the war is over, the industry may be even stronger as Ukraine seeks to rebuild.
“The easiest way to recover the economy will be through businesses that are easy to scale, easy to recover,” says Kosovan. “So I still think that it will be major industry for Ukraine, and even bigger in the future.”
- Come Back Alive is one of the largest charitable foundations that supports Ukrainian soldiers, founded by the IT specialist Vitaliy Deynega. The organization collected more than 210 million UAH (more than $7M) in 2014. According to Na chasi, the Patreon page Come Back Alive is in the top ten projects by the number of financial donations.
- Army SOS, which develops drones;
- Everybody Can, an organization that supports internally displaced people;
- Help on the Ministry of Defense website.